Arts & Giving | Diary of a Somebody

Stephen Bayley

The culture maven on his many modes of personal maintenance

Stephen Bayley

February 17 2012
Stephen Bayley

Day: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

A dawn start to write a “brand-position statement” (not my expression) for the 10am meeting of a client who has got his “offer”, again not my choice of word, of layered cashmere into a bit of a twist. True, the careers master at school never told me you could make a living out of doing such odd stuff, but, then, he also thought you couldn’t read architecture at Cambridge.

Anyway, to work. As a variation to walking, I continue, occasionally, to patronise the Boris Bikes because in theory they are a noble experiment – but, dear me, they tax the patience of the idealistic user. After nearly two years they have still not got the distribution model sorted. Pick one up, target your destination, arrive in good time, if a little sweaty, and you find there is no prospect whatsoever of parking because the docks are full. And they always are. I have never seen an empty Boris slot in St James’s Square between nine and ten in the morning. Problem is, this uncertainty about parking drains the system’s credibility as business transport, leaving it the province of bewildered and wobbling tourists.

This has been a week of personal maintenance. Besides walking and the occasional Boris, my weekends are partially spent trying to get my aching carcass to do 10k between sunup and nightfall. And other elements of my fitness regime are taking very long showers and drinking only fine wine. This afternoon, the dental hygienist in Mayfair. She follows the Kennington chiropodist and the Chelsea haircutter. Like Machiavelli, I have learnt to distribute my favours to achieve a better effect.

My old friend Patrick Le Quément has just this minute sent me a picture of his new boat. Not one he has bought, but one he has designed. Patrick was the inspiringly odd chef du design at Renault. His contrarian approach to what a car should be brought us very clever cars such as the Renault Twingo and Scenic, both familiar now but revolutionary in their day. Then very boldly he created cars which challenged orthodox ideas of automobile beauty. This brought an inevitable conflict with management, so now he is challenging nautical conventions too. In a floating world of excess, the Le Quément bateau uses a quarter of the fuel of your everyday superyacht.

At the haircutter, as I watched grey brushy bits fall where once dark-brown, glossy curls lay, I started wondering about other signs of ageing. Two came to mind. First, my son has just returned from a weekend in California. With business to conduct in San Diego on Saturday, he went out late Friday and came back Sunday. The McLuhan global village I read about at school is verily here. Second, we are friends of George Osborne’s parents. Unsettling, certainly, but amusing to be able to patronise the chancellor of the exchequer…

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